Helf Identifying Ich vs Velvet

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Hi All
New here and new to the hobby.
Started my tank in September cycled well with plenty live rock tracked the Amonia spike and waited for all levels to stabilise before adding 2 Clowns and CUC. That was 3 weeks ago and levels and been within recommended parameters. All live stock appear to be thriving. However I was out the house thursday night and retuned in the morning to find the Male covered in white spots he had 0 the previous day when i gave the tank a long once over during feeding. The female is also showing minor signs of the same. I instantly jumped to white spot (ich) and started treating the tank with Polyp Lab Medic and switch to brine Shimp w/ garlic instead of Flake. Both Fish are eating well and moving around plenty but the male started breathing faster than usual today. Still eating and acting normal.

Now on day 2. The more I researched them i am getting confused on the diagnosis of Ich vs Velvet. And i want to be sure as with velvet i would have considered buying a QT tank asap.  In hindsight I did see 1 while spot on my male around 10 days ago. I panicked then but it disappeared by morning so novice me though it must be sand or something i know know it was a warning.

Any additional advice would be great. Wasn’t expecting to face disease so soon.


  • Andy
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Reply #1

Hi @JDMO welcome to ReefBase!

Yes it's a real PITA. Unfortunately ich is fairly common.  A lot of shops run UV/hyposalinity which suppress the disease but don't fully cure it.  Then as soon as the fish go into your tank, the parasite is able to reproduce again.

With velvet the spots sometimes have a slightly browny/goldy colour to them and are fine,  with ich the spots are usually more pronounced.  Your pics look more like ich to me.  Hopefully somebody else can verify. ( @HK_Fuey @Gav ?)

Even if it is just ich and not velvet, PolypLab Medic may not be strong enough to cure the fish completely, so be prepared to take them out and treat with Seachem Cupramine or similar if they deteriorate.  Clownfish are fine with Cupramine,  if you have other fish, do check on google that they can handle copper. Done properly it will permanently solve the problem, but copper in general can be quite hard on the fish. 

The other thing is that the parasite is now in your display tank, so if you treat them and put them back in, they will likely catch it again.  The only way to be 100% sure to avoid this is to leave the tank empty of fish (called 'fallow') for 72 days or more.   This used to be 3 weeks when I started in the hobby,  it seems there are more resilient strains of ich about now.

PS. if it is velvet,  then leaving the fish tank dark can help
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  • Graeme
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Reply #2


It's hard to tell the difference between Velvet and Ich. Velvet can be more yellow/gold in colour, and has smaller spots (looks like dust), but ich is white and salt grain sized. I'd say Ich from the photos, but hard to tell. The good news is the treatment for Ich will kill Velvet (Amyloodinium / Oodinium) too.

Start by reading this:

PlypLab Medic is no good. Garlic is no good. Myths are rife with Ich, so stick to what we know if proven to work. The theory is easy enough, but carrying it out well will require discipline.
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